LANCASTRIA: In favour of memorial

I wish to comment in response to the article Lancastria Sinking Major Memorial Call (News Post Leader, July 5), and a letter from Henry A Field, (News Post Leader, August 2).

Saturday, 11th August 2018, 6:53 am
Updated Monday, 13th August 2018, 10:29 am

I followed both items with immense interest as I am a relative of a passenger who perished when the Lancastria was sunk on June 17, 1940, by German aircraft.

The Lancastria was a troop ship rescuing soldiers from the 2nd British Expeditionary Force who had landed in Normandy after Dunkirk, only to be withdrawn almost as soon as they arrived. The ship was dive-bombed and sunk with the loss of more than 4,000 lives.

This was the greatest loss in British maritime history and in 1940 accounted for almost a third of the British Army’s fatal casualties.

As mentioned in other correspondence, Winston Churchill put a 100-year block on the information regarding the Lancastria sinking.

My grandad, Private 101269 Ronald Bingham, Pioneer Corps, perished in this sinking. His body was one of a few that were washed ashore. I was named after him.

He is laid to rest in Escoublac-La-Baule War Cemetery in France. My auntie travelled to the cemetery a few years ago to visit her dad’s grave and she also laid a wreath over the site of the sinking.

The cemetery holds the remains of 325 Commonwealth soldiers – 254 have been identified.

Throughout the German occupation, Louise Jaouen, a resident of La Baule, dedicated all her time and energy to maintaining the graves. With money collected secretly from local people, she provided a cross for every grave and a small monument, had hedges planted and employed a permanent gardener to tend the cemetery. Her devotion to this work was later honoured by the award of the Kings Medal for Service in the Cause of Freedom.

As per your previous correspondents, I am all in favour of a memorial to remember this sinking and one day we may know the truth as to how many souls actually perished on that day.

Ron Bingham